An Eventful Week

16-10-08 Driving into the Sunset

16-10-08 Driving into the Sunset

Sunday started off with a visit by Ismail Ismail (800 m silver medal winner in Beijing) and Abubaker Kaki Khamis (World Junior 800m ) Ismail spoke enough English that he was able to field questions from the students. He was charismatic, smiling often as he answered questions posed by the students. He emphasized the importance of practice and training with the statement “train hard, win easy”. Both Ismail and Kaki wished the students success in their studies and told them that with practice, they can realize their dreams. They spent several hours at the school, taking the opportunity to race the students, to demonstrate running form (which they did with grace and elegance), to sign autographs and talk to students and staff. Their visit to the school was a wonderful experience for all. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2008/07/23/VI2008072301964.html and http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/contenders/story/2008/07/21/f-olympics-cont-athletics-m800m.html for related stories.

Ismail Ismail (800 m silver medal winner, Beijing)

Ismail Ismail (800 m silver medal winner, Beijing)

Abubaker Kaki Kumis (800 m World Champion)

Abubaker Kaki Kumis (800 m World Champion)

Monday night was a late night. I had some problems with my wordpress mu install at work and only got three hours of sleep that night. I was tempted to go out with some of the staff on Tuesday night but heeded my body’s needs and was in bed by 10. Plus I had Wednesday night, and our visit to Burj al-Fateh, to look forward to.

By Wednesday night, I’d caught up on some of my missed sleep and was in excellent form for ladies’ night out. We went for dinner at Burj al-Fateh, a new five star hotel near the Nile. I ordered hot chocolate and nachos. Although I wasn’t thrilled by the food, the guacamole was a nice treat (avocadoes are rare and expensive here). Next time, I’m having a ceasar salad. A friend ordered that and it was made with real iceberg lettuce, almost a full head. I think it’s well worth the $12 splurge (since I love ceasar salad). We explored the hotel after dinner. It was too dark to see the confluence of the Niles. I’d previously been to Burj al-Fateh in the daytime when you can see both Niles and their confluence. I didn’t have my camera then but I’m sure there will be other opportunities for a photo.

hot chocolate at Burj al-Fateh, the egg

hot chocolate at Burj al-Fateh, the egg

Night out, Burj al-Fateh

Night out, Burj al-Fateh

M, in the elevator on our getaway from the top floor

M, in the elevator on our getaway from the top floor

On Friday, a couple of friends came over and we made bagels. They didn’t look beautiful but they smelt like bagels and tasted like bagels. We enjoyed them with pesto, good cheddar cheese (thanks Renee), and tomato slices. Desert was bagel with melted chocolate chunks. A successful day!

Cultural experiences … Khartoum

I was making breakfast on Tuesday morning when I noticed something extraordinary. There was quiet in my neighborhood. There was an occassional car on the road, not the usual blur of traffic that I’m used to on this busy street. Khartoum is quiet during Eid.

A friend explained to me that most people who live in Khartoum visit their family in their hometowns, and most expats travel out of the country. As such, only a small core of people are left in the city.

What struck me most was the contrast with  my experience the night before. I’d had an adventure. I was looking for Salih Basha street in Khartoum, and had vague directions as to where it was. I asked a policeman where it was in my limited Arabic. He climbed into the passenger seat of my car and lead me to Huria Street, where he got off. After driving for a little while, I asked another policeman where the street was. He got off his motorcycle and got into my car and lead me to the street. (I offered to drive him back to his bike but he said it was only a short walk.)

Salih Basha is a one way road. There I was driving along, looking for the clinic when I found myself in a crowded and busy souk. Driving a car through the mass of people was a disconcerting experience. I had to follow traffic to get out of the area and had no idea where I was. I counted little on my poor sense of direction to help me but by some miracle, and accidentally, I managed to find Salih Basha street again.

The drive home was significantly less exciting. I simply asked an amjad driver which turn to take, to confirm my route, and it was a simple drive home.